Creating a Spotlight on Digital Citizenship
I feel out of the 6 ISTE standards #5 Digital Citizenship does not get the ‘spotlight’ or the same amount of ‘air time’ compared to the others. There may be an underlying assumption that we are all doing it in through conversations in our class on an as needed basis. But I’m beginning to believe that this is not enough, not by a long shot. Like other areas we teach, it deserves intentional, proactive planning. Of course there is always opportunities for on the spot learning moments. Should digital citizenship get equal recognition as the standards such as creativity and innovation? Or perhaps it is not important to compare, but at least ensure all standards get the attention they need.
As I was reading around the topic of Digital Citizenship a couple of points kept resonating with me. Firstly, the question “Do we have a common language?” and secondly empathy. We know that having a common language in other areas of school can have an impact on student learning. For example, when a school adopts a common language around reading we see a higher level of articulation of the topic. Same with writing. Building a metalanguage helps us to have deeper conversation with our writers. I do agree that at the heart of Digital Citizenship lies empathy as many of the issues that arise connected to Digital Citizenship can be addressed through the lens of empathy. For example: How would the owner feel if I used his work? How would student X feel if I spread her secret?
In “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers, Danah Boyd describes a case study on bullying and after uncovering the layers she finds empathy to be at the heart of it. One of the most powerful points she makes is
“We need interventions that focus on building empathy, identifying escalation, and techniques for stopping the cycles of abuse. We need to create environments where young people don’t get validated for negative attention and where they don’t see relationship drama as part of normal adult life.” by Danah Boyd
I’d like to make digital citizenship a part of our school culture and embed it within existing structures. For example, I work in a PYP school. Within that framework are the Learner Profiles and Attitudes. These are the key attributes that we aspire to for our students. That’s a great foundation to build on. One of these attitudes is Empathy. Students already have a good understanding of what that is as they’ve been exposed to it over the years. It is part of our common language. I’m ready to jump right in and what’s great is there are plenty of resources online to use as a starting point especially from commonsense media and creative commons. In fact, there is so much it is a little overwhelming. What’s the best way? Which is the best resource? Given it is April and I have 8 weeks left with these kiddos I’m going with the mindset that whatever we do over the next 8 weeks will be a start. I’ll develop a more systematic and integrated plan for next year. Also, these next weeks will be great to try out the resources available and get feedback from the kids. I’m going to start exploring what’s out there. I’ve just found that Brainpop has some resources too which may be appealing to elementary aged students. But for tomorrow, I plan to start with this little gem. I think this will be great to engage my 9-10 years old.
As I send these kids into the summer holidays, no doubt some of which will be online, and into fifth grade, I think I can add some tools to their tool box and get them thinking about their digital life. If nothing else, we can start getting to the heart of our digital life through exploring and maintaining an open dialogue about empathy and building a common language.
What’s your favorite resource that you’ve used recently to address an aspect of digital citizenship?